10 Best Streamers For Trout

From working longer hours in search of an upgrade to practicing with your rifle or bow at the range, we are all constantly looking for a way to improve our game. While most of the time getting to the next level in our careers, hobbies or passions requires hours of hard work and dedication to our profession, sometimes it pays to have a little guidance. Kind of a cheat code that points us in the right direction and gives us a springboard to crack the proverbial bottle of champagne before setting off on our latest journey. This has never been more useful in the world of fly trout fishing than when I first started fishing with streamers.

It is difficult for many fishermen to fish with banners because it goes against traditional ideas of fly fishing. It requires heavier equipment, an almost constant movement of the flies, and above all, an understanding of how and when to catch the large, showy fly patterns.

The variety of colored flies, the different actions and color combinations they have can be incredibly frightening. You may feel that you have to have two or three of each size, shape, and color in order to be successful. But I’ve found that when it comes to catching big trout on the streamers, your best bet is to take a “less is more” approach. In fact, I only carry 10 styles with me when I’m fishing. Ten styles will cover just about every fishing situation and everything you need to find and fish for big trout on the water.

Woolly Boger

Classics have become classics for a reason, and in the case of Wooley Bugger, it’s because of their success. Developed by fisherman Russell Blessing in the late 1960s, Wooley Buggers under strike indicator can be used to imitate leeches, stripped of the water like a small baitfish, simply dead or even trolling in standing water and along riverbanks from a boat where they represent things like larvae Girl fly and big stone flies.

“I love Woolley Bogger because it works everywhere and basically everything,” says professional trout guide James Mogley of Sweetwater Fly Shop in Livingston, Montana. “It’s such old school patterns and so simple and incredibly easy to tie. Whenever I’m stuck out there on the water not knowing what to do, I’ll tie a black walleye because it will always put the trout in the net, even on the toughest days.”

Minnow Closer

The Clouser Minnow is a very basic baitfish style that can fish for trout at almost any time of the year in a variety of different water types. Originally created by Bob Clouser in the late 1980s for use in both saltwater and in the popular spring and limestone streams of Pennsylvania, the Clouser Minnow can be stripped and swing across fast water, jump through deep puddles, or slap and shiver like a dead or dying baitfish. In lakes and ponds.

Its upside-down hook design means it’s hard to get stuck in rocks or weeds along the bottom, and its simple design and cheap price mean you can easily hook up or buy more anyway if you do.

sex dungeon

Sometimes, your best bet for catching trout is to move them, which is why nothing beats a caged sex. Originally developed by famous addict Kelly Galloup, Sex Dungeon is made up of a little everything that looks like a big trout. With its heavy lead eyes, massive deer hair head, and marabou’s lighter body, the fly sinks quickly and is the perfect insect to be taken out and clamped with swift strips and the tip of the prick rod puzzlingly along the bottom or outside of the hull where it will be sniffed out by a reluctant predatory trout.

“I love the Sex Dungeon because I think the deer’s hair head turns into a slow-growing trout to become aggressive,” said Mugele, who uses Sex Dungeon frequently to catch trout hiding in the Yellowstone River. “It’s a fly that will get them moving on hot or cold days when they’re reluctant to chase things, and what’s more if you catch them in bright colors like yellow or white, you’ll be able to see them in the water in at least for the first two slices, which usually happens when they’re hit.”

Mike’s meal ticket

When you’re fishing in high or discolored waters and trout are being pushed against the bank, you want a fly with a big profile that you can catch easily and you’ll get a quick reaction from the fish and nothing better than a Mike’s Meal Ticket. Mike Schmidt invented this big streamer with heavy dumbbell eyes, rubber legs, and plenty of flash, but it has a sleek profile that’s easy to see once it hits the water.

It’s the perfect style for attacking along stumbling banks, descending under bushes, and tumbling around large boulders and wooden jams. Move it a few times and if it’s not completely smashed, move on to the next point.

Double scammer

When I’m fishing a big river and need to cover a lot of water quickly, the double deflector is my go-to for flying. The DD is a classic reinforced Deceiver fly, a large baitfish style consisting of two large hooks and a bucket body with a long tail of schlappen feathers. This shiny style is neutrally buoyant, meaning it only sinks a few feet below the surface, and has a long, very realistic look as well as a vibrant swimming action.

Double D can be stripped and hauled back to the boat as a jerkbait or simply dead across long puddles or along concave banks. The light material means it is cast easily and over great distances and when caught at the tip of the aquarium, it becomes the ultimate weapon for finding big fish in big waters.

The Zunker

When you’re looking for small streams for your big bait-loving trout or find yourself in fast waters and need a fly that can be caught quickly along small pockets and buckets in the rapids, there is nothing better than the Zonker fly to do the job. Colorado-based fly catcher Dan Byford invented the Zonker in 1975, consisting of a long strip of rabbit fur attached to a showy little body made of mylar.

It’s a simple yet effective pattern and is a perfect imitation for countless small bait fish, from scallops, smallfish, and bass to trout and whitefish. The realistic action of the pattern and shiny profile grab a lot of attention and make it the perfect fly for ripping through fast water or swinging down along the tail of puddles. Places where trout are most willing to rush away from cover and swallow them.

The Sluggo and The Big Johnson

Sometimes you simply chase a big fish and roll on your streamer without actually bumping into it. Like the tough guy complimenting you at the bar, they often need a little extra irritation before they really commit to a fight. This is where Sluggo and Big Johnson really shine. Invented by Chad Johnson guiding trout on the fabled waters of the White River in Cotter, Arkansas, both models have a long, articulated body that offers an attractive, meaty appearance to the big, hungry trout. But the real magic lies in the flies’ heads made of accumulated deer hair. The flies are not heavy in weight and are designed to be caught on a sinking line. When stripped, thick flies heads turn the fly sharply to the sides in the water, exposing the stalking trout.

“Fishing these flies on a sinking rope with the line trying to pull the fly down and deer hair trying to float creates conflict,” Chad Johnson told Mette Eater. “When the line and the material fight each other, they create a really nice 90 degree angle every time you stop stripping the fly. This is a killer shot for predatory fish. I feel like if I create as many killer shots as possible in the fly’s way, I am working on Providing opportunities for that fish to do a T-bone fly. I’ve seen over the years that giving more killer shots equals more killer shots.”

Sculpzilla and The Dolly Llama

Sometimes you just have to go deep. On hot days when trout are looking for cooler or more oxygenated water or moving into their wintering areas, fish are reluctant to venture out of the deeper waters to feed. So, your best bet is to use banner patterns that sink quickly and can quickly get to where the fish are hiding. No other streaming devices do better for this than Sculpzilla and Dolly Llama.

Both flies can either jiggle, strip, or sway in deep water where they will stimulate the leviathan to feed. According to fly fishing guide Chris Gerano, who uses these flies to prey on deep-sea trout in rivers around Idaho, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon, Sculpzilla and Dolly Llama are especially effective because they have many uses.

“I use Sculpzilla and Dolly Llama specifically because they have giant cones on their heads and when I try to catch anything that looks like a wounded fish or like a scallopin, I want them to be on the bottom,” Gerano said. “The sculpizilla is a good sculpin style for both stripping and also for high stick nymphs because it not only acts as a streamer but also as a attractant. I can run the fly along the bottom using a dropper below the pointer. Big trout will either eat the streamers or are attracted close enough to them to eat A nymph or whatever I use as a dropper.”

Gerano likes to use the Dolly Llama in the same way, but he also uses it when he’s targeting any very large fish that might be hiding along cliffs or in deep pits.

“The doll is not a little fly,” Gerano told Meat Eater. “A fly is usually 4 to 6 inches long, and if I specifically target a larger fish, the fly will get down there and get attention. Dolly is a great streamer that comes down quickly even with a float, and swings well because it won’t be pulled to the surface in A fast current or tangles. The in-flight rabbit strips also provide some great movement with very little effort.”

Take it to the next level

Banner fishing has always been considered the real top level of the fly fishing world. It doesn’t have the same great allure as dry fly fishing, nor is it a way to catch a lot of trout as quickly as the nymphs.

It’s a sloppy, ragged way that burns fingers and wears shoulders but if you want to fish the giant trout you’ve always dreamed of, screw fishing is the only way to go. So don’t get stuck trying to find the right streaming device for the job, because the 10 flies on this list can do everything and it’s more than enough to help you advance and take your fly fishing game to the next level.

Feature image by Maggie Hudlow.

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